What is more natural than fresh fruits and vegetables? Everyone knows that a bowl of fruit is healthier than a bag of frozen food loaded with many unhealthy preservatives and additives. The only ingredient in an apple is nothing more than carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and water. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, people who exercise less than 30 minutes a day should be eating at least 1.5 cups of fruit and 2 cups of vegetables every day. (Latetia V. Moore, PhD & Frances E. Thompson, PhD). Eating an apple or banana a day doesn’t seem too difficult, yet somehow, 76 percent of Americans didn’t meet those recommendations between 2007 and 2010. The statistics are even worse for vegetables – 87 percent didn’t meet their daily intake requirements. These numbers are high, but why are they important to you? Aside from their lack of preservatives and MSG, what is it about fruits and vegetables that help make you healthy?
Low in Calories
Anyone who has ever tried to lose weight knows the importance of calorie counting. The more calories a person consumes, the more they have to participate in any physical activity to burn them off, before they are stored as fat. Considering most people sit down while they’re working for 40 hours a week, that doesn’t leave much time to work off high-calorie foods. The exact amount of energy or calories a person needs to consume is based on a lot of factors such as age, gender, and activity level. However, the National Health Service recommends that men eat around 2,500 calories a day while women should eat about 2,000. Considering that a medium banana only has about 105 calories and a cup of spinach only has 7, you can eat as many fruits and vegetables as you want, without risking a great amount of weight gain. Incorporating fruits and vegetables into your diet is an obvious way to lose or manage weight and still feel satisfy your hunger.
High in Fiber
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, adults should be eating between 21 and 38 grams a day. (Linda J. Vorvick). A medium apple (just 3 inches in diameter) has 4.4 grams of fiber while a medium red pepper has 2.5 grams. Try to compare that to a bag of chips or crackers; there’s no competition. Fruits and vegetables are one of the best sources of natural fiber that you could get. Why, might you ask, is fiber important? Fiber can not be digested, so it passes through our bodies without contributing any sugar. In the process, it helps people feel fuller, which is great for weight management and aids in digesting other foods. Because our bodies can’t convert fiber to sugar, it also helps to keep blood sugar levels low. But wait, there’s more –according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, a high-fiber diet has been shown to reduce the risk of several major illnesses including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and breast cancer.
Fruits and vegetables might be low in calories and full of indigestible fiber, but they are also packed with essential vitamins and minerals for healthy bodily functions. A pomegranate is full of antioxidants to help clear out and detoxify your body, vitamins C, K, and potassium. Its B vitamins even have the ability to help repair damaged DNA. What about carrots? Everyone knows they promote healthy eyes, but did you know they also contain Magnesium to make sure your nervous system functions properly, Potassium necessary for muscular function, and Calcium to keep your bones strong. Sure, vitamins and minerals are important, but some fruits and vegetables have even more to offer. Some people seem baffled by people who choose to go vegan or vegetarian where do they get their protein and iron? Most people don’t realize vegetables like spinach, kale, and chard are chock full of iron, and one cup of kale even has 2.9 grams of protein. Pretty impressive for a plant.
Getting and staying healthy can be challenging, especially when some foods are recommended to be avoided in your diet. The Glozine Global Magazine gives a great list of foods to exclude in your diet. With so many health benefits, fruits and vegetables are an essential part of any diet. Strawberries, blueberries, spinach, carrots, and many other fruits and veggies are low in calories, which makes them the perfect snack food. Not only are they low in calories, but they will also give your body a needed boost of vitamins and minerals. Because all of these yummy snacks are part of a high fiber diet, they will help you to feel more satisfied, giving you the stamina you need to get and stay healthy.